The wind blew in the trees as Caspar raced home to the Stag's Horn, his mind whirring with plans. Gwendolyn was, in many ways, a great leader for the local Bellringers, a fact that would have surprised no one who'd known her since childhood. The young Lady Laodegan had been the sort of person who wanted what she wanted and did what she thought she had to do to get it.
As witnessed by young Gregory Tyne, now back after the years of exile that being gotten by Gwen had earned him. Caspar shook his head. That was unfair to the pair of them. There'd been other players in that tawdry little drama--Gwen's brute of a brother, and her impressively self-decieving father. But they had ultimately been reacting to things, even if they were doing so in an exceedingly unpleasant way. It had been Gwendolyn who'd begun matters, who'd forged ahead when all around her told her to stop.
That spirit was what made her such a fine leader at times, and such a dangerous one at others. Caspar could still recall her standing in her room when the news from Ys reached them, her fists clenched in anger, denouncing every vile lie, abuse of custom and sheer villainy that the Leonais were anouncing so blandly. And he could still recall her announcing her plan to gather her men, get ships, and sail to the capital to storm it herself.
Because that was always the danger with Gwendolyn--she didn't think. She wanted, and she thought that was enough, usually.
And now, the best opportunity they might get for awhile, and Caspar was afraid that they might just lose everything if they weren't careful.
Madness. Sheer madness, he thought. As he came to the front gates of the Stag's Horn, he glanced at the gardeners taking care of the grounds with a certain satisfaction. It was good to see some were still hard at work.
That was when he realized that there should be no gardeners around the lodge. And that shock was followed by realizing just who the gardeners were. He looked around for his wife. "Nell?" he shouted. "Nell?"
"Well, you don't need to bellow Caspar," she said. "I can hear you perfectly fine."
"Why are the prisoners out here tending the gardens?" he asked quietly.
"Well, someone needed to tend to them," explained Nell with an expressive wave of her arms, "and the poor dears were getting bored, and stir-crazy, so I thought, kill two birds with one stone."
One of the men rushed out with a branch full of leaves and berries growing out of a bare one. "Oooh, look, look," he declared, pointing to it. "That's mistletoe! Mistletoe!"
"Well, that's nice, Horace!" She glanced at Caspar. "Isn't that nice?"
Caspar sighed. "Yes, yes, quite pleasant."